Whether you’re dreaming about a tropical vacation—or spending more time with family and friends around the holidays—it can be hard to break free from your business. After all, just because you’re taking time off doesn’t mean your customers and employees are.
Good news, though: Various tech tools can help you both better communicate your time-off plans, as well as ensure you don’t miss a beat from wherever you happen to be. Here are five ways technology can help business owners get a vacation from their business:
Put your business phone to work.
Your business phone platform likely includes features that can help you better engage and serve customers while you’re away—whether that means directing them to another employee who can help them or making sure you don’t miss important calls.
Here are some ways your phone service can help:
- Redirect calls to other employees. To avoid missing important customer calls, consider setting up sequential or simultaneous ring—which redirects any calls to other employees’ phones numbers, so they can field them instead of you. (Of course, you’ll have to make sure those employees are well-prepared to help those customers on your behalf.)
- Forward to your business mobile. If you need to take important customer calls directly while you’re away—or you’re a solo entrepreneur so there’s no one else who can—you can have any calls directed to your business mobile.
- Keep tabs on customer calls and interactions using a mobile app. Spectrum Business Connect—a recently introduced unified communications tool available to Spectrum Business Internet customers—offers a mobile app that lets you manage your business phone and better track any incoming calls and interactions. This means you can easily manage these communications on the go.
“It is essential to have technology that enables you to instantaneously, and on any device, operate from anywhere,” says Kurt Uhlir, an agile marketing expert and business consultant based in Atlanta. “Additionally, a business owner should consider spending money on a single, cloud-based application that runs on multiple devices, rather than getting unique software for each device.”
Both Spectrum Business Connect and Spectrum Business Voice offer dozens of advanced features that make it easy to manage your company’s phone settings and call routing while you’re out of office. You can forward calls to multiple phone numbers, and even get any voice messages sent to you via email, so you can ensure you’re not missing important messages—but in a nondisruptive way.
Use online scheduling tools.
Many businesses have started relying on online scheduling tools such as Calendly or Acuity Scheduling, which let clients and prospects book time directly on your calendar. The beauty of these tools is your clients can “self serve”—easily seeing when you’re available and when you’re not, so there’s no miscommunication.
Moreover, they can book time around-the-clock, even when your business isn’t open, and don’t need you to answer the phone or respond to emails to do so.
Deploy a chatbot.
Depending on your business, you may be able to automate a good deal of your customer service—such as answering common questions—using a chatbot. This means your customers or prospective customers can use the chatbot to ask questions and get answers any time of day or night and don’t need you to respond to each one manually.
“Automated customer service and booking has been an absolute godsend for us in terms of customer relations,” says Nick Valentino, vice president of marketing operations at Bellhop, a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based moving company. “Tasks that used to take at least 40 hours per week can now be handled with a few quick check-ins to resolve any complications, and I’m able to resolve those issues from my phone in most cases—meaning I’ll be able to keep things moving even as I take time off for the holidays.”
Rely on email and messaging features strategically.
Proactive communication is critical when it comes to managing customer expectations around your time off. Many business owners—especially solo entrepreneurs—will start informing clients about upcoming vacation dates weeks in advance.
While that can be smart, you should also consider setting up “out of office” alerts on your email, your electronic calendar (so anybody who invites you to a meeting will see you’re out of the office) and any instant messaging platform.
Shri Ganeshram, founder and CEO of Awning, a San Francisco-base investment real estate site, says he uses auto-responders to inform people when he’s on vacation, but also gives people a mobile phone number they can call him at in in the case of an emergency.
“If there is an emergency that requires my attention, everyone can reach me,” he says. “ “In 99% of cases, no emergency arises and I’m able to rest.”
Maximize collaboration tools.
From customer relationship management software to project management tools, you can make it easy for other employees to fill in for you while you’re out of the office. Today’s cloud-based collaboration tools can let you share key customer information, set up task lists (so other employees know their responsibilities while you’re out).
By planning ahead and considering how technology can help you both better serve customers and stay connected while you’re taking time off, you might actually get a real break this winter.
Want to find out how Spectrum Business Connect or Spectrum Business Voice can give you the flexibility to help you better manage your business while you’re away from it—and give you the break you want? Contact us at 855-299-9353.Print this article